Affiliate Disclaimer

We sometimes use affiliate links in our content. This won’t cost you anything, but it helps us to keep the site running. Thanks for your support.

If you want to introduce your elementary student to the history of the Holocaust, these The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco activities and lessons will help you on your way.

Thanks to Celia Hartmann for helping to prepare this The Butterfly unit study.

The Butterfly (by Patricia Polacco) Book Summary

Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique’s small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her, until the night Monique encounters “a little ghost” sitting at the end of her bed. The ghost turns out to be a girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique’s basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends, until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime flight.

This harrowing story, told by master storyteller, Patricia Polacco, will help your students begin to process the horrible time in history known as the Holocaust. In the story they will find darkness, heroes, and hope. Use our free The Butterfly unit study to delve deeper into the book and the lessons found within.

The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco Activities and Lessons

Here is a sample of the lessons found in this The Butterfly unit study:

Social Studies: WWII and the Holocaust
How is WWII and the Holocaust portrayed in the book? Discuss the following incidents with your student. This won’t give them a detail by detail account of what happened in concentration camps, etc., but it will give them a basic understanding of the events surrounding this time. You may want to compare the following with knowledge your student already has (if this is not a new topic).

  • Monique’s mother wasn’t sure how much longer she would be able to go to school
  • Monsieur Marks’ candy shop jars were mostly empty (sugar was scarce)
  • People lived in fear of the Nazis-they had quiet conversations in their homes, they knew they were taking a risk by hiding Jews
  • People had to watch friends and loved ones being mistreated (as the girls watched Monsieur Marks’ be beaten by the Nazis)
  • The Nazis hated the Jews (even French Jews)
  • Jews had to leave their homes and possessions behind. Many of them hid all over France.

Social Studies: Human Relationships: Friendship
“The girl just sat there for the longest time, holding on tightly to Pinouff. ‘I once had a cat just like this one,’ she finally said.”

When Sevrine left her home, she had to leave almost everything she had behind her including her cat. Monique understood that this was very sad and very hard. When it is time for the girls to part, the story says, “Monique took something from the pouch she’d been carrying. It was Pinouff! ‘Take her, Sevrine,’ Monique whispered.”

The story goes on to show that Sevrine, in turn, gave Monique her treasured possession, a fine gold chain with a gold Star of David. The author’s note at the end of the story says, “Monique and Sevrine are friends to this day.” Ask your student what between Sevrine and Monique portrayed true friendship? How can your student be a good friend to others? In your discussion of what makes a good friend, you may want to talk about how to choose friends.

You can grab a copy of the entire The Butterfly unit study in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

How to Get Started with the The Butterfly Unit Study

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the The Butterfly unit study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, The Butterfly, or borrow one from your local library.
  2. Print the The Butterfly unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Enjoy a week of book-based learning with your student.

Download Your The Butterfly Unit Study

Simply click on the image below to grab the free The Butterfly unit study lessons and activities.

The Butterfly Unit Study

More Holocaust Related Resources

We have two more unit studies for the Holocaust that use picture books as the base. They are a simple, gentle introduction to this horrible time in history. Both of these studies include activities, lessons, and printables.

The Harmonica Unit Study
The Cats in Krasinski Square
Unit Study & Lapbook

Learn More About Butterflies

Grab this lapbook and learn more about butterflies.

Butterfly Lapbook